Okay, so you’re getting ready to launch your own home-based or other small business venture. Half the fun is naming it, right? Although there are some rules that pretty much everyone can agree upon―don’t pick a name that’s too close to something that’s already been done or one that’s easily misunderstood or even offensive in another language, for example―there’s one discussion that remains unresolved.
Is naming your business after yourself a good or a bad thing?
This is the way the question is usually posed and the argument is framed up from there. But perhaps the discussion is better had in an altogether different context. How about asking yourself if naming your business after yourself is the right choice for you given what you have to offer and what you have already and someday hope to accomplish?
Now in all fairness you should know up front that most experts agree on the idea that naming your business with your own name in the title is not a smart move. Here are just a few of the reasons they’ll cite and that you’ll see come up time and again:
- Just naming your business after yourself says very little if anything about what you do or have to offer exactly, unless you’re already quite famous for doing what you do of course.
- If you’re too closely associated with your company, it’s all too easy for clients to always expect to talk and deal with you and only you. That’s a lot of pressure.
- It’s hard to walk away if you ever want to sell your business, as it’s your name and your reputation at stake―assuming that the new owner will want to capitalize on all that good will you’ve created through years of blood, sweat and tears, and why wouldn’t they?
- You might want your company name to change or even need it to change if you ever divorce, marry, take on a new partner or something else unexpected comes up.
- If your name is at all difficult to pronounce, it matters. If someone has to work too hard to remember your business name, they might just get tired of trying. Your job is to make your customers’ lives easier and more enjoyable, remember?
- A winning business name does best when it is accompanied by a meaningful and memorable visual element. Think Nike™ and its’ swoosh. Although your face is certainly unique and it’s certainly the most suitable and reasonable image to associate with your self-named company, are you really that memorable?
Of course, as is true for most things, there’s another argument to be made here.
There are millions of successful business owners out there who thrive with their own name in their company title―and their own image front and center as well. In particular, creative people whose works of art, design or photography bear their proud signature present a reasonable exception to the rules. Additionally, consultants, real estate agents or other professionals for whom the one-on-one exchange and need to trust is so powerful can benefit from name recognition as well. Using your good name can also be especially helpful when you’re first starting out on your own and need to capitalize on what you may already have accomplished in your field.
And getting back to that “Nike™-swoosh” thing, just how much does the word “Nike” say to the average consumer about what that company does exactly or the products they sell for that matter? It probably said exactly a whole lot of nothing when the company was starting out, right? But boy oh boy, look at what the word―let alone the swoosh signature all by itself―means now!
Isn’t the truth of the matter that great names are made, not born? Given your entrepreneurial spirit, much of the true excitement that lies ahead for you is in the prospect of building something from the bottom up with a name that you feel confident will mean something to the consuming public in due time, right? Pick the name and/or visual element(s) that you think work best and that represent your brand the way you would have it ideally understood in your given marketplace―even if it is just your name and your mug.
Then get to work, and the rest will take care of itself.